COVID app protected by laws Govt often ignores

THE light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel continues to brighten, with loosened restrictions on the horizon.

This, with contact tracing, leaves us in a good position.

But what about the app built just for this occasion?


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COVIDSafe downloads have surpassed 5 million - still about a million short of the goal.

Unfortunately, even with the release of the draft bill of the protections, holes still remain.


UNSW law experts this week pointed out: the app "allows the government to collect much more personal data than is necessary for contact tracing", there are still loopholes in rules against coercion, and the bill has a "narrow definition of protected data".

Experts continue to flag problems with the COVIDSafe app, even with a draft bill revealed.
Experts continue to flag problems with the COVIDSafe app, even with a draft bill revealed.

Then there's the app's source code. As early as April 18 the Feds promised its release to assuage privacy fears.

The first recommendation of the privacy impact report on the app also urges this. Three weeks later, we're still waiting.

Scott Morrison's press conferences imply this is urgent.

The app's release tells me it's urgent. So why aren't the Feds treating it urgently and fast tracking this? What're they waiting for, the pandemic to end? Britain has already released the code for its app.

We've also been comforted our privacy rights will be protected by law. Of course Peter Dutton's on the record saying there are "consequences" for breaches.


Incidentally, Australian police and the Home Affairs department (of which Dutton is the Minister) have been caught unlawfully accessing this data.

But has anyone seen these "consequences" in action yet? Or is this our new version of a Yowie sighting?

Protections against function creep (where authorities decide to use the data for another purpose because it's already there) are needed, too. It's nigh-impossible to cram that cat back in the bag once it's out.

This isn't about being contrarian.

The app shows promise.

Unfortunately, the Federal Government continues to treat "promise" as a dirty word.